Friday, February 28, 2014

Paris Then and Now--a date with Cara Black

RHYS BOWEN: Every March I look forward to sharing a pub date and subsequent tour with my friend Cara Black. I’m sure most of you know that Cara writes the Aimée Leduc series set in 1990s Paris.  Wonderful, atmospheric books each one taking us to a different arrondissement of the city. 
So hi, Cara. I’m dying to know what the new book is called.
CARA BLACK : It’s called Murder in Pigalle and comes out March 4 - same day as yours, Rhys. Set in that that naughty neighborhood of the Moulin Rouge at the base of Montmartre. 
RHYs: That’s amazing because this time my Molly Murphy book is also not only set in Paris but is centered just off Place Pigalle. And I swear we didn’t talk to each other about it before we wrote! So what drew you to set your book there--yes I know you’re working your way around all the arrondissements, but why Pigalle
CARA: I have an old friend who has an apartment in the neighborhood. She raised her family there and I love to visit her. It’s an area full of history—Degas lived there. Chopin. George Sand. And it’s like two different places—by day families picnic in the park and at night the less salubrious folk come out. It’s also the theater district with thirteen live theaters still going strong and lots of theater folk living nearby.
 So we have the mixture of the wholesome and the not so wholesome.
RHYS: This is so fascinating for me because I also chose the area just off Pigalle because my story has to do with the art world of 1905 Paris. Do you know that there was a market for artist’s models every Monday morning in Place Pigalle? Degas also has a cameo role in my books, as do Picasso, Gertrude Stein and many others. I have several scenes that take place at the Café des Novelles Athenes…
CARA: Which I also mention, in fact I have a murder there!  I’m fascinated that it’s an area of lovely old mansions with inner courtyards.  In fact it was really countrified until not too long ago.
RHYS: You’re right. A lot of my book takes place on Montmartre and In 1905 it was rural—little wooden shacks among vegetable gardens with goats grazing. Most of those artists garrets had no heat or light (remember La Boheme?) That’s why the cafes were so popular. One could sit all day in the warmth and chat for the price of a cup of coffee.
So Cara, you’ve said why you chose to set the story there, but what about the actual story?  I know each of your books seems to have a fabulous real-life story trigger. Does this one?
CARA: It was based on a real case. I had lunch with a friend who is a retired homicide inspector and was told about a case that happened in 1998—exactly the time I am writing about. The police were searching for a serial rapist who targeted young girls on their way home from school. The police couldn’t catch him. Parents formed vigilante groups and beat up the wrong guy.  In Paris, as you know, each quartier is like a village and these attacks shocked everyone. Finally he was caught and seemed really normal and unassuming. He was sentenced and killed in prison. 
So in my story Aimee is pregnant but asked to find a missing girl so it hits close to home.  This is a book about mothers, parenting, about trying to separate personal life from a job and the toll it takes.
RHYS: Aimee pregnant? That is such a game-changer for her. I’m dying to see how she handles it. And I love the way you always bring in real events. I try and do the same. It makes the stories matter more, somehow. In my book part of the story involves the Dreyfus affair and how it divided Paris.
CARA: The big real event that comes into my story is the soccer World Cup, held in Paris in 1998. World cup fever is sweeping the city, with crowds and rioting fans, making it a time of heightened danger. 
RHYS: This all sounds terrific, Cara. I’m dying to get my hands on a copy. When we go on tour together you can drive and I’ll read! And for those of you who are interested, both Cara and I have our tour schedules up on our websites. We’ll be doing events in the Bay Area and in Southern California together at the end of March. Come and say hello and hear about Paris, then and now. Thanks for stopping by, Cara. See you soon.

Cara's website is and mine is


  1. How interesting that there are so many similarities between your two books --- my first thought was kind of like two peas in a pod . . . .
    Both books sound quite fascinating and I am looking forward to reading them . . . .

  2. Rhys and Cara, I have just put a reminder in my calendar to pre-order both your books tomorrow.

    I am very disappointed that you are speaking at separate events at the same time at the Tucson Festival of Books...

  3. welcome back Cara! many of us were yearning for Paris yesterday--now we have Paris fever!

    Is the homicide detective you consult with Parisian? I'm guessing the way the police work in France is quite different from the US?

  4. How have I missed Cara's books? They sound fabulous.

    Thanks to both of you for sharing your stories about Paris. I'm off now to get MURDER IN THE MARAIS and work my way through the series.

  5. I'm a huge fan of Amy L of the kohl-rimmed eyes. World Cup? Really?!?

    I know this is an aside, but is there food in the book? Because for me Paris is so about food.

  6. Yes, Joan. We're two peas in a pod, only she is the dark-side pea. When we travel she wears all dark colors, mainly black like her name. I wear a lot of pastels. her hair is dark, mine light. But we both have sunny personalities and laugh a lot.

  7. The Paris books sound sensational. I am going to jump in at Pigalle and then go back to the beginning!

    My husband and I spent a week in Paris in November -- it was so wonderful to be able to get to know our little neighborhood near Notre Dame.

  8. Nice to be back Lucy aka Roberta - thanks for the welcome! Yes, Jean-Claude the retired homicide detective is VERY French. He worked on the Princess Diana case. After he introduced me to the head of the Child Crimes police division their young female commandant showed me the actual case file that I based the story on.

  9. Yes, Hallie there is FOOD! But Aimée's pregnant and has morning sickness - so she's always hungry and fighting ahem, her condition.

  10. Hi Cara! OK, now I have Paris fever, too.... Have already read Rhys's latest, which is superb (thank you again, Rhys) and now drooling over the latest Aimée! Oh, to be in Paris and have morning sickness, though... That's so very sad...

  11. Oh, hurray! A new Rhys Bowen Molly book and a new Cara Black Aimee Leduc book! What delights await!

    I'm curious how you two came to start touring together.

  12. Hi Cara!! I'll be seeing Cara at the Tucson Festival of Books, where she is interviewing me, and then at Left Coast Crime in Monterey, where I have the privilege of interviewing HER as the US Guest of Honor! I've been a fan since the very first Aimee book. Murder in Pigalle should arrive on my doorstep on Tuesday. (I was fortunate to get an early copy of Rhys's City of Darkness and Light, which I LOVED!)
    And isn't it funny how often writers (and film makers) get the same idea at the same time? The hundredth monkey theory...

  13. Hi Cara! I'm sad I'm not going to be in Portland when you come through, but I'll see you at LCC.

    MURDER IN PIGALLE sounds great -- I love the added character element re: Aimee's pregnancy. That's indeed a biggie.

  14. It's going to be such fun to hear even more about these books at Left Coast Crime!

    I was in France last fall (Nantes, Mont St Michel, and Paris) doing research for my next book, and I miss it already! Another trip isn't in the cards for a while, so these books will hit the spot :)

  15. I was in Paris last march. It was very cold and snowing. In only 3 days , I didn't get to see all I would have liked.
    So I think that I'll visit through your books Cara, beginning with the new one .
    Of course, I won't miss one of yours, Rhys.
    Have both a lot of fun in your tour.

  16. Linda, Rhys and I live near each other in the Bay Area (though she's spending more and more time in AZ). I think, can't remember exactly, maybe 12 books ago I'd join her on our local Sisters in Crime panels. Then a few books ago, since we've got similar pub dates, we thought we'd get it together and take the show on the road.

  17. Now since Rhys has brought Molly to Paris it's parfait.Can't wait to 'grill' you Debs :)

  18. Debs, I am very excited about the Tucson Festival of Books in March. It really will be wonderful. I've been going through the program schedule carefully trying to fit everything in! Cara interviewing you will be a great treat. I hope to see Rhys again, too. She gave a wonderful talk at our SinC Tucson meeting about a year ago. Watch for Reine & Power Paws Kendall xoxo

  19. Rhys & Cara -

    Both of your new books sound terrific. I can't wait to read them in tandem to see how you each portray the area.

    I'm looking forward to meeting you both at Ladies of Intrigue - and Cara, I'm so honored to be on a panel with you!


  20. I don't quite know how I've missed reading your books, Cara. I love that the stories are connected to real life events. You are now on my authors I absolutely have to read list.

    Rhys, being fortunate enough to receive an ARC of City of Darkness and Light, I can vouch for it being an exceptional read. Paris of the early Twentieth Century really comes alive, and the combination of great story and great history woven so smoothly together was this reader's favorite type of reading. My review on Goodreads is at

  21. Kathy, thanks for the vote of confidence - hope you enjoy Pigalle. Kim looking forward to our panel, too - we'll make it fun! Reine and Power Paws please introduce yourselves at TFOB - thank you REDS and RHYS for having me.